Review: Liam Neeson keeps on truckin' in standard issue 'The Ice Road'

Netflix thriller stars Neeson as an ice road trucker headed to save a crew of trapped miners.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

When a crew of miners in northern Manitoba are stuck inside a collapsed diamond mine, their fate is in the hands of one man with a very special set of skills — in this case, driving a big rig across a frozen sheet of ice — in "The Ice Road," a by-the-numbers thriller with a straight-to-video pedigree. 

That man with a very special set of skills is of course Liam Neeson, who at 69 is a full 13 years into his mid-career makeover as an action star. "The Ice Road" is purely a paycheck job and won't be making any of the Irishman's career highlight reels; it's forgotten before it's over, even if that ending is a long time comin'.   

Liam Neeson and Amber Midthunder in "The Ice Road."

Neeson plays Mike, a driver in North Dakota who answers the emergency call from Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) to haul some equipment up to Manitoba to rescue the group of trapped miners. There's 26 of them and they only have about 30 hours of oxygen available.

He'll have to trek across long ice roads that, since it's April, should have been closed for the season about five weeks ago. He takes the assignment along with his brother, Gurty, a war vet with mental health issues, and a small handful of others: Goldenrod will man another semi, and another will be driven by Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), who is joined by an insurance adjuster, Varnay (Benjamin Walker). 

Engine troubles arise, and then the double crosses start piling up. "The Ice Road" is competent but generic, never quite thrilling enough to hold your attention but not bad enough to turn off. Writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh (2004's "The Punisher") throws avalanches, weak suspension bridges and ice cracks in our hero's path, not to mention teams of snowmobile-riding bad guys, but nothing stops Neeson. You can see in his eyes that he and his special skills are already on to the next mission.


'The Ice Road'


Rated PG-13: for strong language and sequences of action and violence

Running time: 108 minutes

On Netflix